2010 Butlins Mineworkers Championship - Fourth Section retrospective

28-Jan-2010

There was a touch of the Roman epic about Dronfield's victory in the Fourth Section.


4th Section
Smiles all round for Dronfield as they take the Fourth Section title

If Butlins is an accurate indicator of form, then the odds on Dronfield CMW taking the Midlands Fourth Section Area title in a couple of months time will have been slashed at the Bedworth bookies.

Cracker

Directed by John Davies, they produced a cracking show on Leigh Baker’s ‘Roman Tryptych’, to deservedly take the £2,000 first prize and Butlins Trophy and confirm their position as pre contest favourites ahead of the forthcoming regional battle.

Here they were bold, even fearless in the opening ‘Charioteers’ movement, following it with a tuneful, lyrical ‘Pilgrims’ interlude and finishing off capturing an authentic sense of bravura as they marched straight into the ‘Coliseum’ to gain the thumbs up from the Caesar’s in the box, Roy Newsome and Roy Roe.

They now head for Bedworth’s Civic Hall in March brimming with confidence. On this evidence they are the band to beat.
 
Dronfield’s splendid performance just about set the seal (they were drawn 12 out of 13) on what was also a cracking contest.

Although some bands did struggle (tuning issues in the middle section, and difficulties with the euphonium solo and the dislocated percussion rhythms in the third being the main stumbling blocks), not one found the three-movement work beyond their capabilities.

Spirited

Right from the word go, and the solid performance from Ireland Colliery (Chesterfield) through to Melton’s spirited effort at the end, there was plenty for the audience (which was around 400 strong throughout) to enjoy.

The composer himself took time out from conducting in the Second Section to pop in and listen to a clutch of bands, and was pleased by what he heard.  Leigh Baker was not alone, and although the judges wouldn’t have had too many problems picking the victors, the remaining places would have taken a bit more sorting out. 

No other band came close to Dronfield’s overall level of consistency and command of basic ensemble and solo security, although there were a number that did enjoy extended periods when they were right in the old Roman sword and sandal groove.

Robust

For the judges it was Bestwood Black Diamonds that came closest, with a robust account under Brian Draper that gave them their best ever finish at the contest and boosted the band coffers to the tune of £1,000.

They too will head to Bedworth with renewed confidence after a performance which had an authentic sense of style from start to finish, especially with the growing sense of pulsating excitement in the finale.

Third placed Thurcroft Welfare will also be looking forward to the Yorkshire Area contest at Bradford after they posted their best finish since 2006. Theirs was a strongly coloured, powerful account, full of energy and commitment, that may have lacked a touch of reflection in the middle section, but certainly brought a rousing sense of glory to the finale.

Solid

The final prizewinner was Ireland Colliery (Chesterfield), who opened the contest with a solid ensemble performance. It just lacked that extra touch of sparkle in places (and lost the self control in the final couple of bars), but they could count themselves a tad unlucky it didn’t quite find the same favour in the box as it did with many in the hall.  

The rest of the field fell into place with the usual difficult balancing act for the judges of measuring the intangible question of consistency.

Individual problems in the tricky cornet solo in the first movement and the euphonium in the third were invariably offset by stylish playing by the ensemble in the two outer movements, whilst the sense of mystery and atmosphere created in the second section were often let down by poor tuning issues.

Tricky task

The two Roy’s had a tricky task as they pondered the minor placings, and there must have been little to separate the likes of Greenfield Brass in 5th with say, Whitwell Brass in 9th.

Greenfield opened well but like the Romans, found problems with the pesky pilgrims, whilst Rivington & Adlington overcame a nervous, error prone opening to grow in confidence and stature by the time they entered the Coliseum.

Meanwhile, Royston Town had a bit of a hit and miss performance off the number 2 slot to end up in 7th place (when it was good it was a thriller, but when it wasn’t it was a little ripe in the tuning department), whilst Huddersfield & Ripponden Brass captured the differing styles of each of the movements without quite aligning it with consistency of execution.

Proud

Whitwell’s performance was one Russell Crowe would have been proud of  – real up and at ‘em stuff, just let down by poor tuning in the middle section, and Fulborn & Teversham RBL, suffered much the same fate: clearly enjoying the style of the music, but just marred by basic errors in the production process.

The bottom three bands did encounter a few more basic problems as they sought both the style and consistency of execution, with Melton just letting a colourful and exciting rendition fall foul of poor intonation.

Moments

It was much the same with Kingsway Printers Cleethorpes too, with a performance that had its moments, both good and bad, whilst Banovallum Brass stuck bravely to the task of conquering Rome, with a rendition that just didn’t have the same security in the leading lines as was shown in the ensemble.

For Dronfield however, 2010 could prove to be an even better year than 2009. On this form, a return to Harrogate could well be the next conquest for this cracking band and their inspirational leader.

Iwan Fox

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Conductor, adjudicator and arranger